The National Bowl is an entertainment venue in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England. The site was a former clay-pit (for brick-making), filled in and raised to form an amphitheatre using sub-soil excavated by the many new developments in the area and it has a current maximum capacity of 65,000. The arena is open-air grassland, without seats.
The venue opened in 1979 with gigs by Desmond Dekker and Geno Washington. In 1992, Sony/Pace bought the venue and re-branded it as The National Bowl, building a permanent massive sound stage. They pulled out in 1996 citing profitability reasons. English Partnerships bought the site in 2000. It is currently leased to a Gaming International/Live Nation UK consortium. In 2012, the original stage was demolished to make way for a new one in time for the Swedish House Mafia concert in July.
- Queen have released a DVD and double CD of their 1982 appearance at the Bowl entitled Queen on Fire - Live at the Bowl.
- Status Quo had their End of the Road Concert filmed here in 1984, it was released on 2 VHS tapes, End of the Road, and More from End of the Road, the concert marked their end as a touring band, but later revived in 1985 for the live aid Concert.
- Green Day's album Bullet in a Bible, and the accompanying DVD, were recorded at the National Bowl in the summer of 2005. The band's two-night stand was supported by Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday and Hard-Fi. The bowl also appears in Green Day: Rock Band as one of the playable venues.
- Linkin Park released Road to Revolution: Live at Milton Keynes, a CD/DVD set from their first ever UK Projekt Revolution show, filmed on 29 June 2008. Jay-Z also headlined with supporting acts Pendulum, N.E.R.D, Enter Shikari, The Bravery & Innerpartysystem. This show turned out to be the biggest capacity Projekt Revolution to date, and it was the first year in the tour's history to be featured outside North America.
- The Prodigy have released first live album and second DVD of their 2010 appearance at the Bowl entitled World's on Fire.
- Swedish House Mafia held their final UK show on their farewell tour in July 2012. Scenes from the performance were seen in the music video for their final single, "Don't You Worry Child".
2006 Development plans
On 23 January 2006, Gaming International/Live Nation won a further lease in a competitive tender. The consortium made proposals for major developments in a a development summary leaflet (previously linked from the 'Backstage' section of the National Bowl website, now removed).
Gaming International handed The Bowl back to Milton Keynes Partnership towards the end of 2010 – so it is unlikely that any of the plans outlined in 2006 will ever be undertaken – apart from a temporary structure built close to The Bowl in summer 2010 which has a temporary three-year planning permission.
Gaming International already owns Elfield Park, a narrow strip of land on the other side of the A5 from the Bowl, between the A5 and the West Coast Main Line. They cleared a site for the new greyhound stadium there, having recently (2005) purchased it from English Partnerships, and evicted the speedway track and motocross club that had used it for 20 years. Greyhound racing in Milton Keynes was previously at Ashland (since 1966): Gaming International owned that too, but sold it to English Partnerships as a brownfield site for a 350 house development. (The sale of the latter funded the purchase of the former or vice versa). A section of the Elfield Park site is designated as an educational nature reserve.
Milton Keynes Motor Auctions
Milton Keynes Stadium Car Auctions is housed on this strip of land. Car auctions are held there on Wednesday and Friday.
The Bowl is in south central Milton Keynes, at the junction of Watling Street with Chaffron Way, just north of Bletchley. Parking on site (MK5 8AA) is very limited so fans are encouraged to arrive by public transport. In addition to the shuttle busses from Milton Keynes Central railway station, it is also practical to walk [about 2 km (1.2 mi)] from the station using Sustrans cycle route 51.